18-year-old Leah is a rapper living in Corby who took part in CONCEPT, a project run by Pedestrian in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.
CONCEPT is based around a series of week-long studio residencies where young people collaborate to produce an original EP with a shared concept, character or theme.
The project supports participants to develop their confidence, communication and creative skills through writing lyrics, making original music and recording their own tracks.
Experimenting with music
Opportunities like CONCEPT don’t come up that regularly for Leah. As she puts it, “I come from a small town that’s not really creative” – so the experiences that Pedestrian provides have been really useful in helping her develop her music.
At CONCEPT, “you were allowed to experiment with the all the equipment that they had,” Leah explains. “There was percussion, guitars… they also had Mac laptops as well, so you’d be able to use Logic Pro [or] Garageband to make music.”
When CONCEPT isn’t running, Leah mostly makes music at home. “I’d like to do it more, but there’s not really anything out there for young people like myself to go and make music, because there’s not enough funding, or it’s too far away.”
Finding your own style
Leah feels that her musical style is unique to her, and although she’s collaborated with others in the past, she prefers to make music on her own.
“People don’t get your style – you have your own style, that’s what everybody has”. Leah characterises her music as mostly “old style hip-hop,” although now she’s “going into the grime scene, and wanting to make more grime stuff”.
On writing her own lyrics, Leah says: “I don’t go for all the fake stuff, I usually write about what’s really going on in life, or other people’s lives from a third party perspective.”
Expressing emotions through music
“I started music because I wanted to express how I felt through a different way other than talking to a counsellor, or teacher, or a youth worker,” explains Leah.
If [I wrote] a sad song, then I’d be like ‘oh, well I’ve been through that now, I’ve wrote it down, put it out there, it’s in the past now, let’s move on’.
‘Before the Concept’
Watch the video for Leah’s brilliant original track which outlines how the project has helped her gain confidence and express herself.
Leah’s taking as many opportunities as possible to progress in her music-making, and is currently completing her Gold Arts Award, which she describes as “a really big portfolio” which will help her gain UCAS points.
She was also recently awarded a bursary from a local trust, which she used to record some of her music in a studio. Leah explains that all these opportunities have “impacted me for the better, ‘cos people want to listen to my stuff more”.
“I can’t predict what I’m going to do in the future,” she says, but she hopes to continue writing and performing, as well as developing her technical skills in recording and producing music.
The Sound of
the Next Generation
Check out the full report into the diverse ways young people engage with and value music and music-making, and read more stories from the young musicians we spoke to.